The vulnerability in Instagram was discovered by an Israeli hacker with Twitter handle @ZHacker13. The vulnerability opens the gateway for threat actors to abuse the user data.
How Instagram Data Leaking Bug Exploited
The attack can be triggered by using a simple brute force algorithm, to check the phone numbers associated with the Instagram account.
A single instance of the algorithm can retrieve up to 1,000 genuine Instagram numbers each day and there is no restriction with Instagram to limit the number of algorithms running.
The second step is the process to find the account name, the process takes advantage of Instagram’s Sync Contacts feature.
The bot will set up a new account, once the new account setup Instagram will ask to sync contact details and this will retrieve a huge amount of account numbers and names. But if the contact list has a single number, then it will retrieve account details.
Here the Instagram limit’s number of account sync per day, but no limits on that can be run. @ZHacker13 told Fobes that “I can get all Instagram users’ details and phone numbers.”
@ZHacker13 said, “I could build a large database of millions of Instagram users’ records.” “By opening 40 user accounts,” @ZHacker13 explained in his write-up, “we managed to get 143 Instagram random accounts details.
The vulnerability was reported to Facebook by @ZHacker13, but Facebook responded: “the vulnerability was serious, there was internal awareness of the issue and so it was not eligible for a reward under the bounty scheme.”
Forbes contacted Facebook to raise the profile of the security researcher’s disclosure and now Facebook makes changes to protect the user contact details.
Recently an online database exposed 419 Million Facebook user accounts online from an unsecured server that includes a unique Facebook ID and the phone number listed with the account.